United States Treasury Department – legislative mandate

The Treasury department was established in 1789 by an act of congress (Statutes at Large 1789). The Act created the positions of the Secretary of the Treasury (as the department’s head), Comptroller, Auditor, Treasurer, Register and an Assistant to the Secretary and established the roles for each position. For instance, the roles of the Secretary included preparing budgets to enhance management of public revenue and expenditures, overseeing public-revenue collection, and providing warrants for funds drawn from the treasury following appropriations (Statutes at Large 1789, Sec. 2). The roles for the Comptroller included verifying the accounts settled by the Auditor, ensuring the integrity of public accounts and countersigning the warrants drawn by the Secretary as provided by law (Statutes at Large, 1789, Sec. 3). The Treasurer’s roles according to the Act included receiving and maintaining the funds collected, disbursing such funds following warrants drawn by the Secretary and providing periodic updates on the monies held to the Secretary, Comptroller and the Senate and House of Representatives (Statutes at Large, 1789, Sec. 4). The Auditor’s role included verification of the accuracy of all public accounts while the Register was charged with maintaining the initial accounts and adjusted accounts received from the comptroller (Statutes at Large, 1789; sec 5 & 6). Section 7 of the Act provided for the Assistant to the Secretary to assume authority and roles of the Secretary whenever and during the period of a vacancy at the Secretary’s position (Statutes at Large, 1789).

Apart from the roles of the various offices, the Act, in section 8, also stipulated various prohibitions for individuals holding the offices. The Act prohibited office holders from aspects such as having direct or indirect interests in the business of trade or commerce, partial or full ownership of any sea-vessel and concerning oneself with purchase and/or disposal of any state’s or U.S.’ public securities (Statutes at Large, 1789). Section 8 of the Act also established penalties for office holders who offend against any of the prohibitions (Statutes at Large, 1789). It also provides a reward of half the penalty to a person, other than the public prosecutor, whose information leads to the conviction of an office holder who has offended against the prohibitions (Statutes at, Large 1789).

Subsequent Acts have altered various aspects provided by the establishing Act to reflect the changing aspects of the department. For instance, in March 1791, a supplemental Act expanded the provisions relating to prohibitions of the office holders to include all clerks except for the penalty, which was provided at a lower amount for the clerks (United States Congress, 1834). It also provided for the appointment of clerks and their compensation. An Act of May 8, 1792 made provisions such abandoning some of the prohibitions for clerks and providing authority for the treasurer to make payments for specific aspects related to the department of war (United States Congress, 1815). Other Acts enacted in relation to the Department of the Treasury are “Act of March 3, 1809, chap. 28; Act of November 22, 1814; Act of March 3, 1817, chap. 45; Act of February 24, 1819, chap.43; Act of May 1, 1820, chap. 50; and Act of May 15, 1820, Chap. 107” (U.S Department of the Treasury (2010b).

Currently, the departments legislative mandate includes developing economic policies to enhance economic stability, ensuring the integrity of the financial system and collection and expenditure of government’s revenue (U.S. Department of the Treasury, 2011a). Economic policy includes aspects such as formulation of fiscal policy to determine taxation levels and modifying government expenditure programs. In its revenue-collection duties, the department uses the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) bureau to determine, assess and collect internal revenue in the country (U.S. Department of the Treasury, 2012). Annual government revenue and expenditure programs prepared by the entity are presented to the house of representative whose approval ensures that the treasury implements the expenditures it has intended for that year. The department’s role of ensuring the integrity of financial systems is carried out through the OCC, which provides regulatory and supervisory control of national banks (U.S. Department of the Treasury, 2012). Go to part three here.

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